Three Stars: Crawford, Bickell Efforts Not Enough as Hawks Fall

Kings' solid effort in first two periods enough to carry them to hard-fought win

It took the Chicago Blackhawks 39:24 to finally get their offense going, but ultimately the effort wasn’t enough as they fell to the Los Angeles Kings by a score of 3-1 at Staples Center on Tuesday night.

Bryan Bickell scored the only goal for the Blackhawks with 36 seconds remaining in the second period, but it wasn’t enough as Justin Williams, Slava Voynov, and Dwight King scored goals for the Kings to cut the Hawks’ lead to 2-1.

We’ll have plenty of coverage on Madhouse Enforcer in the days to come, but for now, here are Tuesday’s Three Stars:

Third Star: Niklas Hjalmarsson

Hjalmarsson didn’t get onto the scoresheet in this game, but it was the contributions that he made physically that ensured him a spot on this list.

In the game, Hjalmarsson had four blocked shots and two hits, but that number doesn’t illustrate the sacrifice he made in the third period. He took a shot from the point on a penalty kill for the Hawks, and laid on the ice for several seconds in writhing pain. Despite getting hit in the knee, Hjalmarsson crawled back to his feet, and slowly made his way off the ice as the play went to the other end.

True to form though, Hjalmarsson didn’t leave the game. He came back in and made several solid defensive plays, including a great fake out of King at center ice that prevented a rush up the ice.
Hjalmarsson may not be the primary guy any more because of his separation from Duncan Keith, but he has been a solid player throughout the postseason, and he showed it on Tuesday.

Second Star: Bryan Bickell

Speaking of guys who were doing a great job despite injury, Bickell came back from a first period injury and scored the Hawks’ only goal.

Missing the last nine minutes of the first period after leaving with an undisclosed injury, Bickell came out in the second and played a little bit slower, but just as intense. The effort culminated late in the second period, when Bickell stole the puck behind the Kings net and cut out in front to score a wraparound goal on LA goaltender Jonathan Quick.

Many of the tweets reacting to the goal focused on the fact that Bickell will get paid the big bucks in free agency, but the real focus on the play should be on Bickell’s never quit attitude, and the impact that it clearly had on the Hawks as they continued to fight hard throughout the third period.

First Star: Corey Crawford

The Kings came out firing in Game 3 on Tuesday night, and just like in Game 2 of the series, Crawford stood tall throughout the barrage.

Los Angeles ended up with 28 shots in the game, and although Crawford only made 25 saves, the ones he did have to make required some serious skill.

His rebound control was impeccable, his lateral movement in the crease was on point, and all it took for the Hawks to lose the game was a broken stick shot from Voynov in the second period.

Puck luck sometimes goes against a goaltender, and even though it victimized Crawford in this one, the Hawks have to be satisfied with his play.

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